An international consortium of leading ICT network engineering and management firms and financiers have reached a key stage in a partnership which is working to bring the “Smart Cities” concept to Ghana. This will involve building a network that will allow Ghanaians, nationwide to subscribe to one WIFI internet network, with access costs made unprecedentedly affordable through sheer economies of scale, country-specific engineering design and installment payments by subscribers.
Some central partners in the consortium which is anchored by pioneering Ghanaian ICT firm Celltel Networks have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for their collaboration in executing the US$300 million project, branded Aircel, that will create a Nationwide WIFI network across Ghana. Besides Celltel which is the concept driver, the other signatories were CEIEC, the Chinese government’s international co-operation corporation and its transaction advisor Roberta Annan Consulting, a Ghanaian owned, America based investment advisory firm.
The MOU expands a consortium of technology companies that have been working with Celltel Networks for the past two years and who have completed an engineering design that is tailored for Ghana and which will be accompanied by a financial model that will finally make WIFI internet access available – an affordable –all around the country.
Over the past two years, Aristotle Incorporated – a leading US- based firm with expertise in providing digital divide solutions – has devised the engineering solution, while Sylversys Consulting International, a global technology management consulting and professional services company is serving as the technical advisory and implementation partner which is representing global industry leader, Cisco Inc.
The three signatories to the new MoU and the technical partners who have worked with Celltel over the past few years will soon be entering into a comprehensive arrangement with each other towards the completion of this ground-breaking initiative which is to be funded by a consortium of private investment banks and ICT vendors. The project will also have the collaboration of local government authorities and other relevant government institutions and agencies.
Says Dr Prince Kofi Kludjeson, Founder and Chairman of Celltel: “For starters we will distribute affordable Apple handheld devices by subscription and on flexible payment terms to enable many more Ghanaians to own the devices and pay in instalments.”
Importantly the Apple devices can also be connected to other telecom networks for making and receiving phone calls and even for mobile broadband access which makes them eminently useful even before the Aircel network goes live.
“ So we will distribute our devices ahead of the roll out of the Aircel WIFI network so that people can start using them on their preferred telecom network as they wait for the launch of Aircel” promises Dr Kludjeson. He affirms that Celltel Networks believes in government’s Digital Ghana agenda, characterized by paperless services at all government offices, a digital address system, electronic finance and commerce services as well as e-education, e-health, e-agriculture and the likes.
Celltel also plans to distribute digital televisions that make subscription access to the internet at home, and in offices and schools easy. Riding on its partnerships Celltel is willing to enter into deals with reputable partners able to provide high performance devices to Ghanaians on affordable payment terms. Indeed this has informed its new partnership with CEIEC which promises to deploy relevant technology from China to Ghana.